03 Jan

The new divorce law came into legal force in England and Wales on 6 April 2022 and also applies to civil partnership dissolution.

No-fault divorce is a divorce procedure that does not apportion blame to either party. The most important aspect of no-fault divorce is the removal of fault or blame from the divorce process. 

Married couples in England and Wales can now start divorce proceedings without having to blame their ex-partner for the breakdown of the marriage as no-fault divorce legislation comes into legal force.

Previously, under the outdated divorce law, couples needed to prove the breakdown of their marriage through unreasonable behaviour, adultery, or desertion. If there wasn’t an agreement to divorce, couples were left with no option but to wait until they had been living separately for 5 years.  

The significant changes will mean that the grounds for divorce are entirely non-fault instead of a mix of both fault and non-fault, such as unreasonable behaviour.

Making a divorce application is an entirely digital process, removing the possibility for paper applications. 

Here is a summary of the key changes you need to know about the new no fault divorce law:

  • The first change is that divorce proceedings no longer have to be initiated by one partner alone. Instead, a couple can make a joint application. While that may seem like a technical measure, supporters of the new law argue that it removes an in-built imbalance that undermines attempts to split amicably.
  • The law lays down a minimum allowable period of 20 weeks between the initial application and the conditional order, and another six weeks between the conditional and final orders. That means that even the smoothest divorce will take at least six months or more to complete, compared to 3-4 months under the current process..
  • The current list of five permissible ways to prove the breakdown of marriage has been replaced by a single mechanism. Now all that’s required is for at least one spouse to provide a legal statement to say the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This statement counts as conclusive evidence and cannot be contested.
  • Under the current divorce law, the person applying for a divorce needs to cite their spouse’s behaviour or use a period of separation as the reason for the divorce. Their spouse can contest these reasons and potentially prevent a divorce. However, under the new no fault divorce law, the ability to contest a divorce will be removed.

For more information please contact Elaine Shell either on 0151 355 8481 or on es@jacobslaw.co.uk

* The email will not be published on the website.